MANILA, Philippines - David Beckham and a constellation of stars from MLS champion LA Galaxy descend on Manila today to promote a sport that has enjoyed renewed popularity in the country while giving the Azkals a chance to fulfill their dream of playing A-list footballers at home.
Beckham and the Bruce Arena-coached Galaxy are set to arrive from Indonesia early today, reportedly aboard a private plane, for the second stop of their three-leg Asia-Pacific Tour presented by Herbalife.
In the Philippines for the first time, the US pro club based in Carson, California will kick off their Manila foray with a football clinic for kids at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow at the historic Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
At 3:30 p.m. the same day, the paying public can watch first-hand how the Galaxy, topbilled by MLS Best XI selections Beckham, Landon Donovan (also the MLS Cup MVP), Todd Dunivant and 2011 MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez, as well as postseason heroes A.J. DeLaGarza, Robbie Keane, Mike Magee, Josh Saunders, practice before a game.
On Saturday night (7:30 p.m.), Beckham and Co. will put on their football gears in the anticipated Dream Cup friendly with an Azkals side that is as thrilled to be on the same pitch with the British icon and try to impress him.
"For the Azkals, this chance to play with and learn from the newly crowned Major League Soccer champions, is an experience they can constantly draw inspiration from; a memory they can return to again and again as we gear up for Year 2 of football’s renaissance in the country," said Azkals team manager Dan Palami.
Aside from playing the Azkals, the LA Galaxy will also be visiting various charity projects for children, including the Casa Herbalife program in the Philippines on Dec. 3, according to Brian McKinley, senior director, WW Corporate Alliances, Herbalife International.
"We are all excited to meet the LA Galaxy fans and looking forward to sharing the love for the game to all soccer fans in the Philippines. We would like to share not only techniques or strategies, but how the team prepares ahead of the game, especially how Herbalife nutrition products help them have a more competitive edge in order to achieve their goals," said McKinley.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Football Federation has agreed to the P1-million rental fee imposed by the Philippine Sports Commission for the use of the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, securing the venue for the match.
"We've already agreed in principle to the terms for the rental of the Rizal for the whole affair," said PFF president Nonong Araneta, who met with PSC chairman Richie Garcia Tuesday night to discuss the matter.
The PSC, which manages the Rizal pitch and the entire sports complex, has adopted a board resolution charging the PFF and the event organizers with P1-million for use of the field over two days.
"Yes it is P1-million. But we will use the money to buy balls for our grassroots program in football," Garcia said via text message.
"We're okay with it. What's important is, it's earmarked for football," said Araneta, whose group will in turn make arrangements on the payment scheme with the promoters.